MARYSVILLE — Many people don’t even know it’s there, and now its future is uncertain.
The Geddes Marina, tucked away next to Ebey Slough between Highway 529 and I-5, has been used to moor boats since the late 1800s and as a full-fledged marina since 1947, owner Ed Geddes said.
Now it’s being sold to the city of Marysville.
The oldest of the rustic boathouses and working spaces dates back to the late 1930s.
“There’s a profound and wonderful history here,” said Catherine “Cat” Clark, a Seattle attorney hired by Geddes and his wife, Susan.
The Geddeses sued Marysville in 2006 over water running into the marina from city storm drains. The lawsuit has sat unresolved since then. This past March, the two sides mutually agreed to settle the dispute by selling the marina to the city, Clark said.
“It took months to sit down and hammer out something that works for everybody,” she said.
The deal hasn’t closed yet, so neither side is discussing the price. Clark believes the deal is a fair one for both sides. It’s hoped the deal will be final by mid-July.
City officials aren’t sure what they will do with the five-acre property after the sale, city administrator Gloria Hirashima said.
None of the nearly 50 tenants will be required to leave before the end of October. Beyond that, Hirashima said, it’s uncertain. Three people live aboard their boats on the property.
The city eventually would like to see the Ebey Slough waterfront redevelop with trails, apartments or condominiums and some commercial development as part of its long-term downtown makeover plan. The marina, on a little arm of the slough at 1326 First St., is next to Ebey Waterfront Park.
How the marina property figures into the plan is unknown, Hirashima said.
“We really haven’t made a decision at this point,” she said.
The marina hardly fits a typical model of contemporary redevelopment. Many of the buildings are old and decaying.
“A lot of people like the way it looks,” Susan Geddes said. “It’s rustic. We like it. We are kind of isolated here.”
The buildings are still functional, Ed Geddes said. “Some of them are certainly due to be replaced,” he said, noting that new buildings would be subject to rules much different from those in place — or not — when most of the current ones went up.
A lumber mill stood on the property in the early 1900s, Geddes said, displaying a photograph from that era. Boats were moored alongside commercial operations on the property for many years, he said.
Bill Geddes, Ed’s father, began working on boats on the property in the 1930s and bought it in 1938, Ed Geddes said. By 1947, the last of the lumber mills had closed.
Until about 1951, the family maintained a home at what is now the entrance to the park. Ed Geddes, now 69, said when he was a boy the moorage rate for boats was 10 cents per foot per month.
“My father used that because it was a nice round number and easy to figure,” he said. Now it’s $6 per foot per month.
Geddes said two buildings on the property were burned down in 1992 by serial arsonist Paul Keller, who is serving a 75-year sentence in prison for arson and a 99-year sentence for three deaths in a fire in Seattle.
Bill Geddes ran the marina and a marine supply business on the property until his death at age 82 in 1998. Ed Geddes’ brother and sister ran the marina until Ed and Susan bought them out in 2000.
Beforehand, Geddes ran his own separate marine supply business in Marysville for many years. When he and his wife took over the marina, they sold the marine supply and repair business on the property.
At that time, there were 98 boats in the marina, close to its historical peak of about 100, he said. The number grew over the years from marina’s inception. Currently 46 boats, mostly pleasure craft, moor in the marina. Thirty of them are sheltered in boathouses.
The largest boats are in the 46- to 50-foot range. The boats can leave and return only at high tides through a gate near the slough.
Ed and Susan Geddes maintain an office in an old house on the property and live in Tulalip. Lately, they’ve been contemplating retirement anyway, they said. They’re not sure what they’ll do next.
The Geddeses informed their tenants of the pending sale in a recent letter. Some of them are upset about the situation, Clark said.
“It’s a big change,” Susan Geddes said. “We love our people.”
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